Cheryl Denise Bannerman is a multi-genre author of three successful works of fiction, a motivational speaker, and CEO. She resides in Orlando, Florida, where she runs a virtual Training and Development company, which she founded in 1996. Here she shares her journey, as an author, a mother and a daughter, finding out that her parents were in fact not her biological parents …
Growing up in a rural part of Southern New Jersey, in a middle-class family, the youngest and only girl of three siblings, I enjoyed a good life of private schools, lavish vacations and the adoration of my parents who were married for 54 years to date. My mother introduced me to books at an early age and encouraged me to not only read, but also write. I remember having my first poem published in a collective book of poetry at the age of only 13. And when my mother wasn’t working, I would read her my short stories, soaking in her edits and feedback like a sponge. Even at an early age, I was searching for perfection in my writings. As an adult, I continued to remain close to my parents. There was never a day we did not speak at least three times on the phone. I went on to achieve various Undergraduate and Graduate degrees, successfully founded and operated my own Training and Development company, raised a special needs child on my own, and became a published multi-genre author of fiction. As long as my parents were proud of me, I was fulfilled.
But then….at the age of 42, a trilogy of events in my life, would take me to a place I had never been before. A place where hope was non-existent and sadness was overwhelming. I no longer had my biggest fans, my mom and dad, to cheer me on and lift me up. I was in the midst of an abusive relationship, unsuccessful at all attempts to break free, when I got the news that my father passed. Only hours before he would be buried, at a family gathering, a friend of the family blurted out a truth about my existence that proved devastating. I was NOT my parent’s biological child. It was a secret that apparently every single person in the family knew…but me. With her soul mate gone and suffering from Alzheimer’s, my mother passed shortly thereafter, and I found the courage to file divorce papers and end the cycle of abuse. The trilogy was complete, but I felt anything but whole. Ultimately, through my faith in God, my daughter, my sense of humor, and intense ‘talk’ therapy, I was able to ‘recreate my identity’ and come to terms with the truth.
I had learned that when you experience trauma in your life, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. You can scream, cry, laugh, shop…whatever you need to do. Take all the time you need and if you need to ask for help, then do it; and if you need to push the RESET button, then do it. Similar to resetting a computer, I pressed Control-Alt-Delete, and did a complete Power Down and Restart.
After being silenced for so long in a decade-long abusive relationship, I first had to find my voice again. I have since learned that becoming more vocal in your wants and needs, gives you more power over your life, and how you see it evolving in the future. I did this in two ways:
1) I wiped away past hurts by forgiving people who were not even sorry. And,
2) I removed negative and toxic people from my life who wanted nothing more than to see me fail.
I also healed through my writing. One of the few female authors to introduce topics of social concern within ‘fictional’ stories, my books draw from my most intimate life experiences and include characters who have been victims of child molestation and domestic violence, and who suffer from depression and various other addictions. For example, my second book, Words Never Spoken, which just won the 2018 Book Excellence Award, is a self-help, poetry, chapter-book about a woman who escaped an abusive relationship, and even includes self-reflection journal pages for readers to document their feelings and begin healing.
My goal now is to keep writing and continue helping victims of Domestic Abuse/Violence, Grief and ANON family groups, and Corporate Health and Wellness groups, to heal — creating their own ‘Happy Ending’…One Day at a Time.